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Davis, California

Friday, March 1, 2024

Stop talking, start helping

What you can actually do to make a difference during humanitarian crises 


By EMILIE BROWN — emrbrown@ucdavis.edu


Across the globe, from the turbulent Palestinian-Iranian conflict to ongoing battles in Sudan to the heartbreaking plight of hunger and thirst in the Horn of Africa, countless individuals are grappling with immense challenges. I’ve noticed that many of us say that we support these people and we care about these issues, but there is a large and troubling divide between mere words of human compassion and the actions needed to make a tangible difference.

There are just a few main causes for this separation. Mainly, we may feel removed both geographically and emotionally from the struggles others face in different parts of the world. It’s easy to feel detached and take for granted the luxuries guaranteed to us while living in a mostly stable and just country. However, we need to recognize that we are all human, and it’s our responsibility to take care of each other. The people suffering during humanitarian crises across seas are people just like you and me.

Some may say that the resolution of these issues should be up to the governments and leaders of countries in turmoil and that no individual halfway across the globe could possibly make a difference. And that is partially true; leaders should take care of their citizens. But I believe that it is also our responsibility as citizens of a stable and wealthy country to support causes that help less fortunate individuals in less stable areas.

Many of us have the ability to vote, and therefore the power to elect leaders that align with our values and can make concrete differences. Citizens possess a lot of power — financial resources, a voice and the energy of youth. It is time to channel these advantages into tangible efforts to bring about change.

To start, make sure you understand the complexities of the crisis you support. Try to regularly engage with reputable news sources, read reports and listen to the experiences of those directly affected. Knowledge fuels informed action.

Then, identify established humanitarian organizations actively working on the ground. Use your wallet to make a difference. Direct your financial resources to these entities if you can, ensuring your contributions reach those most in need. Even just a few dollars can make a difference.

Finally, consider how your talents and expertise can have an impact. Explore opportunities to volunteer locally or remotely with organizations addressing humanitarian crises. Your contribution matters.

I believe that the average individual is unaware of the severity of these issues and fundamentally does not know how to help. While words hold the potential for change, it is through action that we truly empower ourselves and transform lives. To bridge this gap between sentiment and action, we must shift our focus from empty rhetoric to concrete ways of helping those in need. With that in mind, here are some great links to get you started:


Direct Relief: Aid in response to emergencies, refugee medical assistance 

Americares: Distribution of medical essentials

Feeding America: Providing meals for those struggling with food stability in the US

The Red Cross: Disaster relief, volunteer opportunities available locally and worldwide 

UNICEF: International relief for children 

Doctors without Borders: Medical supplies and assistance 

CARE: Emergency relief and development projects


Written by: Emilie Brown — emrbrown@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.